30 October, 2009

Are You Worth It?

Fall has hit big time, a chill that never seems to fully disappear even with a sunny day. I went to a fundraiser for LGBT Historical Society looking for a new museum space. Funny, I feel like gay history now, since I have donated a few interesting pieces to them. I participated, but like a boy in plastic bubble with all the noise, it made it almost impossible to talk.

This week, I have been busy with my refinishing my front door. It is still a good weatherproof door but subject to sun, and the clear coat was screaming for chapstick. I am trying to figure out the best way to make it last longer and make it fun and interesting. Meanwhile, it means a cooler house, and I don’t want to buy a new door, as it seems like such a waste of money. Not like I really enjoy sanding, but trying to introduce mindfulness to it. I began to think of my Dad spending hours sanding his boat or a piece of art using the fine touch of his hands to feel the surface. I thought that all he sanded and all the time he spent is lost. Now, why I am I sanding again? I guess to save some money, and the environment by not throwing, yet another, thing away.

Earlier in the day, a neighbor finally contacted me about doing some color consulting on their house. The husband likes to joke about everything in a dead pan sarcastic way. And has for years. He said some neighbor hates my exterior color without telling me who. But I think it is said to knock me down a little, because they have watched me fix my house for years. Or maybe it was his wife’s idea to call me and not his? Never the less, I feel like I have to prove my worth, but I am using this one as yet another patience test.
Like most people I contact, they want free suggestions about everything. But upon seeing their interior, it had never been redone in over 20 years. So, I said you are wasting your money to ask me to do a color in rooms that have never been updated. Honestly, they could use any color and it is not going to make the room better. They aren't a clean slate when you keeping old stuff. They confessed they would rather travel then fix their house. I said that's smart, and we talked about ideas where to go next, to relax the husband. Later, I said lets do the outside, because I have come up with a few ideas that will hide the mismatch of a cheap 70’s redo on lopped on a 30’s house. That is one thing that will make the presence seem like it is together. But in the process we talk about where next to live and agree that our houses will soon be someone else’s problem. So, I leave our meeting in a light mood, and hopefully next visit we can finalize colors.

28 October, 2009

Ragin' or Fishin'

If life were truly fair, would we have anything to be pissed about?
I have been called a faggot since Junior High School, and as recently as a couple of weeks ago. While waiting at a bar for a beer in Washington, the waitress leaned over and said "faggot" to the bartender. Little did she know that because of my speech disability, my hearing ramped up along with sense of smell. Well, I smelled a rat, and watching the bartender serve others that came after me. Now, I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt after a day on a boat, very regular. I am not a "Liberace" kind of faggot. Well, I just told my Mom and her husband quietly, and we just left even though they just seated us for dinner.
I have used my anger about things like this to work on our rights for over 25 years, but now I am feeling like backing off and let the next Generation take over. Not wimping out, trying to approach things on a new tack. For me to be relaxed about injustice and fairness is new to me. I know I am trying to lean towards wisdom over outrage for my my own mental and physical health. And it is a great relief. When I saw this post tonight about a store selling Nazi crap, I could feel the rage and questioned whether this was the right way to approach this. Never-the-less, I could also appreciate what Jack was trying to point out. Thank you, to those out there who never relax.

25 October, 2009

Independently Stranded

I overheard someone talking at my gym while I started meditation, about going home to her parent’s house when she will has surgery and to stay there when she recovers. That, of course sounds logical because of where they live they have no stairs which is better after she has knee surgery. But it also says a whole lot about your supposed independence and your friends who can't take the time to help which she said was more of the issue. We often think we can be independent of others. We were raised with help of our parents, and we need people at every step of the way; from getting a job, to eating vegetables we did not pick, to having a partner able to share their love. We need others even if it is just to be an ear to our problems.

In yoga you look for community, it is not done alone independent of others as a workout in a class situation. Today, I offered a suggestion to a woman who is my class, but after class and not in front of others. I said, “Don’t work so hard, when out of breath, rest and watch. We all are beginners at our own level.” It is the only class she takes, and it is kind of advanced, and I fear she will hurt herself. Many poses if done when tired you can get lazy and do damage to your body. Someone told me this when I started 10 years ago, and I relaxed about keeping up. I still rest now, when I get tired. Sadly, a lot of people feel ashamed if they rest no matter how many times the teacher tells them it is, in itself, a natural pose.

Well, she took it all wrong, and was offended. I guess she thought why would a stranger tell me this? Because she said, “Of course, I am not a good as you, but I do fine.” The look on her face said, I crossed a line I should not have. Now, should I just let it go or write my intention down on paper was to be helpful to her not judgmental? In class quite a few people of all ages talk to me, so I am not some odd man out throwing this out there. I just don’t want her stranded or discouraged which can happen if you jump in without getting the body conditioned to the moves and positions. Or should I learn from this not to speak until spoken to?

22 October, 2009

When All Else Fails

When the whole financial house of cards unraveled last year, I started to worry like most people did and still do. Even though I thought, a year earlier, that this real estate boom couldn’t possibly continue, so I should have been more prepared. I just gradually tried to relax, and think about what is most important to me. It would be the love of my partner and family and having my health but most important… would be the realization of Dhamma. So, I immediately started a 1/2 to 45 minute meditation every day. Sure, I had a meditation practice but not so regular. I would have days where it would be easy, and other days when worry reared it’s ugly head when I thought, “How far down can this market go?” I would laugh at myself trying to put faith in something that I knew deep down was never really a source of happiness in the first part. The economy or even the market never really loved me, even when things were great.

So, I would watch my thoughts everyday, some days accessing where old dreams are stored or the subtle sense of the blood flow to my eyeballs and lids or just finding peace in the midst of chaos. And because I would do it most days before yoga in my gym, found that it made my practice easier in spirit and breath. I actually felt like I cheated, because I had the heads up on most people who walk it and go right at it. Try to balance with a busy mind. During the class, I could also hear the frustrated breath of others, and so I offered the room a smile or a chuckle. As people came into the space while I was meditating, I would notice, that even with people who were not conscious of me or cared, it would still gradually introduce a peaceful element. I was amazed after a time how much noise people make and it would never make me flinch. And so after a while more and more people would try to meditate. And the ones who didn’t became a little more considerate….all without me saying a word. Not even a frown.

20 October, 2009

18 October, 2009

Ring My Bell

Doorbell, rings…half expecting a friend to drop by, I answer even though in the middle of doing two things. Uggh, it is two people trying to sell me something. I immediately say to myself, don’t look pissed and let them do their job, using every bit of my patience, with the man talking a mile a minute. He says in the beginning of all this, saying he is not trying to sell me anything, doesn’t want any money… just to earn points. But he has nothing in his hand, and I smell a scam. The woman with him is just smiling nervously, saying occasionally, “that’s right!” He is a young and handsome, and she is a little worn on the edges. If I had to guess she was a former drug user, but life has not been too good to her. While he was still talking, I watch her, looking back to him hinting I need to know what you really want. He stops and says, “We are from the projects and just trying to get up in the world and by earning points we can… with your help!” I still don’t quite understand how I am supposed to give him points, and voilĂ , he reaches in his back pocket to whip out his tattered program. Pointing to my supposed neighbors on his sheets that gave him points, he tells me that by signing up for magazines, I earn him points. I say I really don’t need any more magazines, especially at inflated rates, scanning his list noting they are ones I don’t read. I scan his program pages, looking at the hokey company page. Nothing looks real to me. The whole thing is so round a bout that is totally confusing. Maybe his boss (if he has one) designed it this way if it is real. People will give anything just for them to get out of your face.

So, I say how else can you get points? I really want this to end soon. He tells me you can buy points, and points to a check a neighbor supposedly written in his receipt book, which he kept in his other back pocket. I look at him, and say I really can’t. “We are trying to get out of the projects, and looking for a hand up. You got this house by help,”looking around, he says. I say, “Wait a minute, are you assuming that I am rich and did not work hard for my house? This house did not fall out of the sky for me, and yes, I came from nearly nothing and had a tough life, too. That tactic won’t get you any further, I say to myself. “Well, there is not much I can do for you, I am just not interested and yes, money is tight like you said.” (referring back to the myriad of points he made in his spiel) He got the idea, and then asked me if I have any food for them. I said, “of course,” giving them my last two Clif bars. I wished them well and off they went. e saiHH

17 October, 2009

Things I Am Grateful For

I am grateful for(not in order):

Having a close and loving family.
Still having a sense of humor even after the shit hits the fan!
A simple hello from a stranger.
A cup of tea while watching the sun rise(see photo).
My partner saying "I love you,"
knowing that when he lives a life of truth.
News reports of someone doing something kind.
(i.e. The autistic kid who saved his teacher)
Having a brain injury, and getting better,
but still disabled enough to be humbled.
My ability to overcome any self pity with
a mental turnaround of a workout or a sit.
Learning Dhamma and applying it in difficult times
to overcome anger.(I'm a work in progress, still not perfect)
The blessings of having my sanity
with a mentally ill family member in mind.
A handful of close friends who understand me.
People and especially dogs notice can sense
when I meditate and the afterglow.
Having a disability that is a quick read
of where people's hearts truly lie.

11 October, 2009

Carrots in Front of Donkeys Does Not Work

I can't tell you how many times I have heard on the news, the financial giants saying they have to reward their CEO's and talent pool to the extreme...to keep good people working for them. They said they just can't afford to lose the best talent. But we all know the best talent got us into this mess.
Well, here is proof that this reward factor does not work, and this was done by the Federal Reserve Bank, ironically. We just can not afford to make this same mistake twice if we want America to have a future.

10 October, 2009

Essentially No Fun?

When I went to the monastery to meditate all night, one of the most interesting parts of the dhamma talk I heard that night was an explanation of the value of the precepts. What you do when you take a day off to meditate with the monks, you are really taking the precepts for one day. To live like the arahants do. This voluntary practice allows you to tap into your heart. It is with the recognition that Buddha dhamma has provided some help with your life.

The first five are fairly easy and make sense. Take Number 7 for instance, which is (Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami) I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics. If you think about it, it means no Ipod, movies, clubs, bling bling, or moisturizer and essentially no fun. This is done to get your mind back under your control, void of external conditions and things(often called distractions), and ease your access to your own peace. If I am looking for a nice tune, great food, a large rock or a splash of wine to be happy, then I am seesawing between happiness, neutral feelings, and unhappiness. Tipping either way depending on whether I like or dislike a particular thing. The thing we love is really not the music, taste, rings, or the views but the place where it takes us in our mind. If I want wisdom, I have jump off this ride to access it. Back to more meditation and the thoughts of where I want to be mentally, using loving compassion with myself. This is not a punishment denying me what I “truly deserve,” from being a medical guinea pig that resulted in my brain injury, but really a natural offshoot of the fact that I survived it. And now, how best can I make the remaining time I have left? In the pursuit of more wisdom seems to be the final frontier for me.

I have to say Many Thanks to the two strangers from Macau that stopped me to ask for a smile when I was wrapped up trying to find a gift for a friend. Not unhappy, but I have to focus on task at hand with this silly brain injury. It is funny, because I bought lip protectant to help to smile more, and chocolate bars to give away on my walk downtown. I was in heaven with the funny conductor on the trolley, smiling a lot, just a few minutes before I ran into these two. Over glasses of wine we covered many topics, but how we as people have so much more in common than not. The others we are so afraid of want the same thing out of life as we do…to be happy.

05 October, 2009

The Key Never Fooled Me

Mystery only really happens when all the facts are not known. The minute I saw this news story, the DEXTER key looked wrong. It is only for a door lock set and not a padlock to be found on a chest or a similar item. Common sense might finally get me a job. If I am wrong I will gladly take this down. Now, if only we go as crazy looking for a sound mind as we do gold.

“Patty Henken thought she was just buying an antique chair at an auction in New Berlin. She got the chair, all right -- and a hunt for buried treasure in the bargain.

While refurbishing the chair, Patty discovered a slip of paper folded in half inside the horsehair- and straw-stuffed cushion. “Finders Keepers!” was typed on the front. She opened the paper to find a key and a mysterious message.

“This DEXTER key #50644T will unlock a lead chest …” it began. The message went on to describe the place where the chest supposedly was buried and what was inside -- eight $20 gold pieces, six $10 gold pieces, five $5 gold pieces, three $2 1/2 dollar gold pieces and two $1 gold pieces.

The note was signed “Chauncey Wolcott.” ”

Mysterious note leads to dig for treasure hunt,

Dave's email reply when I posted this:
Thanks. When we were at the dig that Sunday afternoon, someone suggested that key should be taken to A-1 Lock and have it analyzed. That probably would have shown what you knew, that this sort of Dexter key doesn't go to any type of chest.

I do think it was a nice touch on Slaven's part to tape that key to the note. Gave it a more authentic feel….

We heard today that Ripley's Believe it or Not is going to use this story. Probably -- "Man's Last Practical Joke Sprung 30 Years After His Death!!!!!!!!!"   Believe it or Not. I believe it.

Dave Bakke
The State Journal-Register

04 October, 2009

The Odds of Being

I was fixing the butcher job my contractor did, by sanding and priming today. I thought I might as well do my washers in my shower, after I heard some water noise when I was turning it off. And that usually signals time for a new kit. Patiently, making numerous trips to the hardware store, because the repair kit I bought did not have all the parts I needed. I still have to find one washer that I could not find from two hardware stores. It always takes twice as long as originally planned. But today, I did not let frustration rule.

But all this aside, as it isn’t what came to mind. In the middle of this, I thought what will I be known for after I am gone? It really doesn’t matter how clean your house is, or what kind of car you drove or even how well you could cook. Or even how good the details are on your house.
What seems to matter to me, is how consistent I am and my drive for truth. I sometimes push others to not be vague or flaky. A man of my word, but I am, of course, not without my failings. I know I have a hard time taking compliments and giving thanks in a really heartfelt manner in a few instances. When someone is nice to you, regardless of giving you anything ..it is a signal of where their heart lies. Their intent is not to hurt. They might living compassionate life. Even if they really do not do anything more than being consistent when they see you. By not letting their own frustrations in life, get in the way. There are times when I want to pull them aside and say, “Thanks, for always being consistent, and lending a smile.” Oftentimes, I am embarrassed to say with casual friends, only to read wrong when I would say it. Because with my kind of brain injury, I can’t say meaningful, emotional things with getting teary eyed. It would be so awkward for the other person. I wish in turn I could crack a big old smile, all the time but still hard with some facial paralysis. I do manage to laugh, say “hi” to people a lot, so I am not withdrawn in actions only in appearance. I am still outgoing, and I just want to project the internal happiness and wisdom I found so far. If anything, I will known as having had never given up against incredible odds. With wisdom still in my line of sight.

03 October, 2009

Grabbing at the Wrong Things

Watching Inglorious Bastards, one thing stayed with me. Pvt. Zoller wanted Shosanna so bad, even though besides saying no, she practically spit on him… and for good reason, of course. Why is that we want something so desperately, that it can drive us crazy? We like attachments to things we can’t have. And then what if we get it? Well, it becomes suddenly undesirable, so damn fast that it will make your head spin. This only proves it was not a source of happiness to begin with.

I am working with a contractor on my house, and the man will tell me anything. He is so dishonest, that he can’t bring himself to make one heartfelt attempt. All he wants is the money and to use me. He is driving me crazy, that I can hardly wait until I am finished with the job. Maybe that is his tactic. Yesterday, he stopped by after he left, to ask if he can use my bathroom. It was only to photograph my tile work(I designed it), to show his client. Then we he came out he asked if he can photograph it, when I knew damn well he already had. That was why he stopped back by. I can read people like him. It is not very difficult; they try to apply some fake gesture of kindness that is unlike their personality. So, right now he is my Inglorious Bastard at the moment and has kept from writing, while I watch his hired help butcher things. It is only outdoor trim, and soon enough he and his flunky will be far enough away and life can resume.
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